General Surgery Qualifying Exam/Boards

midway

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    Any advice on doing well on the surgery boards. What to study (please don't say "read a text book/Cameron cover to cover." Any tips? Is SESAP really as good/usefull as everyone makes it out to be?
     

    JackADeli

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      Any advice on doing well on the surgery boards. What to study (please don't say "read a text book/Cameron cover to cover." Any tips? Is SESAP really as good/usefull as everyone makes it out to be?
      It's been a few years.... but, I used SESAP & Osler course. I don't think the exam has changed much since I took it. It is my understanding that for recert, the ABS encourages the test takers to use the SESAP. So, at least for the first half of the exam, SESAP is supposed to be good.

      You might want to do a search. I am pretty sure this topic has been covered about every year and so you may find some recommendations from others in the past....
       
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      TheAce

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        If you can't pass after five years of a general surgery residency, you don't deserve to pass. Any single book/course is insufficient to replace the five year of learning and continuous reading you should have been doing during your resiency. The Qualifying Exam is simply about knowledge. The only thing I read just prior to the exam was the Fiser "ABSITE Review" book.
         

        Celiac Plexus

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          If you can't pass after five years of a general surgery residency, you don't deserve to pass. Any single book/course is insufficient to replace the five year of learning and continuous reading you should have been doing during your resiency. The Qualifying Exam is simply about knowledge. The only thing I read just prior to the exam was the Fiser "ABSITE Review" book.

          When I took (and passed) the exam last August I was sent a score report which showed that 25% of test takers failed the examination. It is hard to accept that 25% of test takers "don't deserve to pass".

          There were a lot of questions covering ob/gyn, ortho, urology, even plastics. The questions span a broad range of topics, and I think that's where a lot of people get nailed. I actually did not study much at all for this exam because I thought that my years in general surgery residency should have been adequate preparation, and fortunately they were. However, it is not hard to imagine how people could fail the exam given the range of questions on topics that most general surgery programs don't emphasize at all.

          If you are pressed for time, I agree that using the Fiser book is a reasonable review/cram tool. Also, make sure that you review the subspecialty topics too.

          Good luck.
           

          JackADeli

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            If you can't pass after five years of a general surgery residency, you don't deserve to pass. Any single book/course is insufficient to replace the five year of learning and continuous reading you should have been doing during your resiency. The Qualifying Exam is simply about knowledge. The only thing I read just prior to the exam was the Fiser "ABSITE Review" book.
            I have to echo what celiac has stated...failure means you failed the exam it does NOT necessarily mean you are untrained as a surgeon... but maybe untrained to take the exam. For those that have not been through this "combine", that statement may not make sense. Unfortunately, it is well known that residencies vary widely in their approach to TEACHING. You are more often then not, in some programs, left to learn the science on your own. Many programs "teaching conferences" are a joke. The review courses can, for some, help get you into the right frame of mind and appreciate what questions will be asked and possibly what they are looking for.... Residents will, if lucky, often hear from attendings that the actual course of treatment/surgery being undertaken, is NOT the right answer for the boards. So, I agree with celiac... I was extstatic to pass the exams. But, was less then thrilled with how well my residency actually prepared me for the qualifying examination.
             

            JackADeli

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              One final note, some residencies knowingly defer any structured learning to the individual residents and then pay for the review course to wash their hands of the teaching responsibilities.

              On the other end of the spectrum, programs may have practice written exams a few times per year (beyond ABSITE) and visiting professors once a year for a mock oral examination.
               

              tussy

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                Hate to break it to you, but I read both Sabiston and Cameron cover to cover. That being said I had a high score and over studied. The standard is actually fairly low for the qualifying exam and it is frightening that 25% fail.
                 

                Celiac Plexus

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                  Hate to break it to you, but I read both Sabiston and Cameron cover to cover. That being said I had a high score and over studied. The standard is actually fairly low for the qualifying exam and it is frightening that 25% fail.

                  What will undoubtedly be more frightening for you to learn is that the pass rate in 2009 for the QE was 75%, and the pass rate for the subsequent CE was 77%. That means presumably only 57.75% of examinees were able to become certified last year (.75 x .77).

                  It's unclear what the numbers are for first time test takers from this data, but if you just take these numbers at face value, the overall pass rate is quite low compared to other specialties.

                  If that is a low standard, I wonder what what a high standard might mean for pass rates.
                   

                  Winged Scapula

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                    What will undoubtedly be more frightening for you to learn is that the pass rate in 2009 for the QE was 75%, and the pass rate for the subsequent CE was 77%. That means presumably only 57.75% of examinees were able to become certified last year (.75 x .77).

                    It's unclear what the numbers are for first time test takers from this data, but if you just take these numbers at face value, the overall pass rate is quite low compared to other specialties.

                    You're right - they don't separate out first time takers from repeat takers. I think I've heard the IM boards have a 90% pass rate.

                    And believe it or not, the pass rate for general surgery is higher than it used to be. Higher failure rate indict our general surgery training programs and their ability to educate. Too many people were failing. It was apparently felt by the ABS that a 70:30 ratio was acceptable and didn't require any changes to surgical education. So rather than change curricula, they changed the test. FYI: The RACS exam has a 30:70 pass rate from what I understand.
                     

                    JackADeli

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                      ...Unfortunately, it is well known that residencies vary widely in their approach to TEACHING. You are more often then not, in some programs, left to learn the science on your own. Many programs "teaching conferences" are a joke. ...Residents will, if lucky, often hear from attendings that the actual course of treatment/surgery being undertaken, is NOT the right answer for the boards...
                      ...some residencies knowingly defer any structured learning to the individual residents and then pay for the review course to wash their hands of the teaching responsibilities.

                      On the other end of the spectrum, programs may have practice written exams a few times per year (beyond ABSITE) and visiting professors once a year for a mock oral examination.
                      I have to concur with Celiac and others. There are wide variations in the teaching as there are in residents learning styles, etc... Some residents are fortunate/gifted enough to be able and sit down and read cover to cover texts with high retention. That was not me or most of the residents I know. You can gain vasts amounts of book and other knowledge and still not be prepared to take the examination. To this day, I am grateful for my first time pass. I am not sure it was knowledge or just plain luck.

                      I know plenty of folks that failed the qualifying exam... a few times but were very able to easily pass the certifying exam. The written exam leaves no room for debate or explanation. It is a "best answer" scenario. But, as many will tell you, the "best answer" for the exam is often not the "real answer" to practice. I am not frightened by the 25% surgeons that fail. I am frightened by the broad amount of failed preparation. I know plenty of first or second time fail surgeons I would trust more then many first time passers.
                       

                      Bruingirl6

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                        I took and passed the exam last August....While I studied intermittently...I started really buckling down and studying mid-June.
                        I did NOT read Cameron.
                        I did SESAP 12 and 13 twice each with a lot of time in the middle so I sort of forgot the stuff I missed.
                        Most people in my program used the Makary General Surgery Board Review Book. There are a couple mistakes...and it is not complete...but I took some notes in the margins and though it was pretty good.....I did not take a review course
                        For the orals I used Safe Answers and a set of 93 scenarios that got emailed around. I passed that in April...I wished I had taken it slightly earlier.
                         

                        chen

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                          where did you get a set of 93 scenarios? Thank.



                          I took and passed the exam last August....While I studied intermittently...I started really buckling down and studying mid-June.
                          I did NOT read Cameron.
                          I did SESAP 12 and 13 twice each with a lot of time in the middle so I sort of forgot the stuff I missed.
                          Most people in my program used the Makary General Surgery Board Review Book. There are a couple mistakes...and it is not complete...but I took some notes in the margins and though it was pretty good.....I did not take a review course
                          For the orals I used Safe Answers and a set of 93 scenarios that got emailed around. I passed that in April...I wished I had taken it slightly earlier.
                           

                          Smurfette

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                            You can buy some study materials directly from Osler. I believe they have some version of the '93 scenarios' alluded to above.

                            There are also all sorts of exam study materials that get passed around between graduating residents. Ask around to recent grads and fellows....you may get materials from other programs that served their grads well over the years.

                            You also can try a google search....I found a few things that way myself, but I had to sift through a lot of garbage to find something useful.
                             
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